Contradictions in the Writer’s Evolution Essay

Hi everyone,

As we in the Capstone class embark on the process of now editing our Writer’s Evolution Essay draft, I wanted to pause and reflect on the contradictions that are emerging in my first draft of this essay. As I was writing I definitely noticed that there were contradictory sentiments arising out of my essay. I resisted the urge to press ‘backspace’ and instead continued to power through my first draft as organically as possible. It turned to to be quite messy which I took as a partial victory because in that mess there was a lot of truth. However, I did find myself questioning why so much of what I wrote seemed to twist back on itself.

One thing I mentioned is how much less I seem to write as I get older. I seem to write only when it is demanded of me and less and less for myself. When I was younger, it was just the opposite dynamic. Yet, I also cover how I continue to use writing constantly as an outlet- something I covered extensively in my initial ‘Why I Write’ essay. These two facts definitely seem at odds. How can I continue writing as an outlet if I am writing less? Is this just a biased perception of myself or are one of these claims blatantly incorrect? As I weed through the revelations and challenges that came out of this first draft I think many of these contradictions come from a variance of perception. While in the thick of this class, I feel like writing is something I don’t do enough- at other times, I feel like writing is an inherent part of my life. The way I view my writing is circumstantial to my current viewpoint and therefore its changes.

As I now look to revise this first draft I think its important not to view these contradictions as challenges to be tackled but as nuances to be fleshed out. Something seemingly contradictory is probably only scratching the surface of a deeper, more complex explanation. By allowing myself to create a non-linear but truthful first attempt at this paper I am hoping now I can begin to make meaningful, deeper connections. This paper is undeniably challenging and I see many of us encountering the same struggles but I do believe that is only going to make the pieces stronger in the long run.

-Anisha

Eportfolio Reflection!

It is immensely satisfying to see my eportfolio in its completion. I recall beginning this course and feeling inspired yet overwhelmed by looking at the previous cohort’s eportfolios. They were so in-depth, thoughtful and comprehensive. They seemed to come together effortlessly because most of them drew connections between their writing so well. With that in mind, I am proud that I was able to create an eportfolio of my own that seems to have come together with a sense of cohesion and purpose. The process of video editing was by far the most tedious aspect but one I knew would be meticulous coming into the remediation.

I am also happy with how my progression through my various pieces presents itself in my eportfolio. I think it is not only accurate but reflective of my writing and growth process in this class. With something such as my Why I Write piece, I really enjoyed going back and reexamining my thought process and outlining to reach the ultimate work. It is so easy to often forget the thought and reflection behind a final work. In my opinion, though, it is so necessary to take time to look back at these processes, both the successful and unsuccessful, to learn about myself in multiple ways. With some time apart from the piece, I saw where the weaknesses and strengths of that paper began to emerge early in the planning process.

I ended up being happy with my remediation because of the immense effort I put into it but I do think I can continue to improve on it. I think I will be inevitably compelled to continue revising this video piece as I continue to learn more about crafting and editing feature videos. Especially with this upcoming year holding more video editing experiences and lessons, I think this will definitely be a piece I will want to revisit as I continue to learn more about crafting creative videos.

Throughout the entire process of remediating, the most frustrating part was definitely video editing. I did not realize how much more tedious a feature video integrating music and carefully juxtaposed interviews would, though. The uploading process simply because of the equipment I was working with (a macbook air with limited processing power) also made the process that much more tedious. I think I will continue to revisit this piece even after this class.

 

 

Advice to future writing minors

Firstly, welcome to the writing minor! Congratulations on being accepted to join fellow peers who care deeply about writing, as I’m share you do too. The writing minor is different in many ways from other programs. It frees you of restrictions and constraints of other classes. It does not demand stringent requirements and tedious exercise and yet it can pull out profound potential that you have yet to discover. As much as you put into this minor, you will receive even more. So I encourage you to do a few things.

  1. Invest yourself fully.

Do not cheat yourself of this opportunity to become the best version of your writing self. Put your creative efforts into this class and enable yourself to reap the benefits.

  1. Engage with your peers.

You are going to be immersed in a community of talented creators. They are incredible resources so take advantage of the opportunities to learn from them.

  1. Share your writing.

The writing minor gives you multiple platforms to share your writing. From the blog to the eportfolio, you have the opportunity to show your work to the other minor in writing community members. The feedback you receive from the community will be invaluable in moving forward.

  1. Meet with your instructor.

It will become abundantly clear early on in your writing minor experience that your professors and instructors care deeply about your growth. Be sure to meet with them and learn from their experience and advice how to best improve your writing and work.

  1. Don’t compartmentalize your experience.

You will soon realize the lessons you learn in the writing minor span far beyond the gateway course. Do not box these lessons into the confines of a classroom. Let the lessons you learn throughout your creative process seep into your work in other classes and outside of the academic realm. Challenge yourself to set goals for your writing outside of the minor and use the tools within the minor to reach them.

These are just a few pieces of advice that will help you delve into the incredible community and resources of the writing minor. Do not limit yourself and keep in mind that it will be over before you know it! I feel as if I was just reading the advice on the blog and suddenly I am giving it. Enjoy your time in the minor but be sure to seize opportunities to improve and engage.

Why I’m Thankful for the Writing Minor

Before college, I wrote the same way I walked or played soccer or spoke- it was natural and habitual. Yet when I entered college writing became something of necessity, something that classes demanded of me in order to finish a paper or an exam. My freshman year I found myself trying to redirect my creative passion for writing but it became harder and harder. Eventually, writing for pleasure and expression took a backseat and I wrote when demanded of me. I am thankful for the writing minor because it enables me to write to explore again. I explore myself, the world around me and other people. Some of my favorite pieces have emerged from this class and I have learned an immense amount about how and why my peers write as well. I have learned and explicated the very reason I write and the value in it. I have created a vessel not only to express myself but to enlighten myself. I have created new media in order to convey my writing in this ever growing multimedia age. None of that would have been possible without this writing minor.

One of my favorite quotes is by Anais Nin and it goes: “I write to taste life twice.” I always thought that was particularly poignant because it rings so true for me. I write in order to experience the world in my own personal way, to see the world again- not just by immediate experience but through my own crafted lens. Being in the writing minor enables me to taste life twice again and that is something I am immensely appreciative for. I look forward to continuing to discover more about the heart of writing- my own and others.

 

A step towards a more natural, digital rhetoric

Before this class my interactions with digital rhetoric were fairly limited and, contrary to the natural progression Clark implies, were relatively forced. For other classes required blog posts were just that- required. They did not seem to foster a sense of community or collaboration, I regarded them as just another assignment. However, that is beginning to change now. While in some other classes, my routine interaction with other classmates does feel compulsory, that actually began to change by joining this class and more broadly, the writing minor. Because writing unites and grounds our entire class, unlike other classes where it is simply a component, engaging in more digital rhetoric feels like a natural next step to take. It doesn’t feel like a forced progression because it makes sense for us to try new modes of communication as we push forward with our writing.

Blogging was something that took me sometime to see differently in this class. As we started to delve deeper into our projects and interact more in person with our blog groups, it felt very natural and beneficial to be interacting online with my other members. Most of all, though, I think the creation and progression of our eportfolios is the most striking and impactful. These digital records and reflections are so unique and creative. As we walked around in class the other day and looked at each portfolio so far, each was bursting with a unique persona and so many were able to translate their mock-ups onto a website. I would say that this was a prime example of the advantageous ideals of empowerment and effective communication that Clark talked about. I am intrigued to see how all the video projects turn out as these are also key pieces of digital rhetoric emerging out of our work.

Another alternative version of digital rhetoric that is being frequently used by our generation is social media. It is somewhat introduced as a new form of pedagogy. While we engaged in Facebook interactions through our activity with the writing challenge, I think it will be more difficult to integrate something like social media in an academic sense. Students regard social media as a purely social mode of interaction so it seems odd to try and use it in an academic realm. Regardless, I think as future generations become more and more comfortable with digital rhetoric in their everyday lives, it will be more natural to see all different types of digital rhetoric to appear in the classroom.

The digital drafting process

The drafting process for papers for us as students is a familiar one. One reworks their piece many times: re-wording, line-editing, peer-reviewing etc. It all seems relatively intuitive after many years of being taught how to properly work through a piece. Especially in this class, drafting is such an integral part of working a piece to it’s fullest potential. For a traditional paper, this is second nature.

However, digital remediation is a whole new field for many of us to explore. The drafting process does not include the same steps, and most of all, not the same mediums at each step. While we first drew our plans on simple, blank pieces of paper, we are now working to have them come to life online. This is an exciting but slightly foreign experience. We are bounding into territory where simple line edits and fixing of grammar is all that necessary. We have to create storyboards, plots, visually-aesthetic web-designs, integrated multi-media platforms and seamlessly try and have our ideas weaved into these different aspects. For me, as I compare my story-boards, mock-ups and early stages of my projects, I see many parallels.

storyboard and questions
storyboard and questions

The first parallel I see between my story-board and mock-up is the desire to keep the design simple, clean and allow it to speak for itself. I want my interviews to carry the video piece without much need for my own personal narration and I want my website to remain devoid of unnecessary distractions. In the picture posted, my early website design has a easy to follow navigation at the top and a few pictures on a white background. I don’t want any gimmicks or distracting aspects take away from the viewer’s experience of my work and it’s message. My story-board, posted here, also has a similar feel. It draws out the structure of my piece, focusing mainly on the interviews and questions to be asked of interviewees. No complex transitions are used, simply a few montages to show contrast between answers.

I’m not finding too much frustrating right now because I haven’t delved too deep into the technical details. Much of the general drafting and planning process comes easily as it is creative and not too logistics based yet. I’m enjoying watching how these projects develop side by side and what they’re teaching me about the digital drafting process versus the traditional one we are so used to.

EPortfoli Repurposing Process page
EPortfoli Repurposing Process page

 

Home page with remediation project
Home Page (will have remediation video)
reflection and processes page
Blog with additional reflections and process explanation

 

Looking through a different Lens

Since I have used the Cannon Vixia, a small automatically adjusting camcorder, and traditional DSLR cameras, I thought to try a different piece of equipment. I tried the Lumix, a camera that can automatically adjust but functions and looks more like a Nikon/Cannon typical DSLR. I regarded this camera as a sort of in-between of the two being that I would be using its automatic instead of manual setting. Firstly I learned that that the automatic setting doesn’t always make things easier. The shot when automatically set up often was over-exposed or focused not on the subject but on something more distant. Thus, I did have to do some minor manual adjustments. From there, however, it was useful to have the automatic setting to adjust to changes in the environment such as more or less natural lighting from surrounding windows. This enabled me to focus more on the interview rather than technical adjustments.

Once past the initial frustrations of technical adjustments in the beginning, the automatic setting proved to be an advantage for the most part. The other aspect that I still need to explore is the quality. I struggled a bit with the autofocus ability and this tutorial proved useful, although simplified. On the small display screen of the Lumix the quality looked good but when imported, it looked a bit grainy. Before I jump into the compelling, substantiate bulk of interviews for my project, I hope to maximize the quality of this camera so that it appears high quality when imported onto my computer.

Video Journalism

This past summer I worked with Channel 4 in Detroit. I often got many inquiries about the city of Detroit and it’s character. One of my most eye-opening and incredible experiences was shadowing video journalist Alex Atwell. His video pieces display Detroit in a positive light by displaying the innovative and unique ideas, places and activities in the city. The people he interviews and places he exposes his readers to make a strong, poignant argument about Detroit. He shows that Detroit is a city not of crime and danger, but one full of promise and unique opportunities.

This video specifically is about BMX bikers that also give back to the community. IT’s a wonderfully shot piece that displays Atwell’s skill as a videographer but even more so gives the viewer a unique look on Detroit and these bikers they would have rarely gotten before. Through interviews and the use of a go-pro and camcorder from Channel 4 Atwell takes us into their world.

Another unique aspect of his work is his online and digital emphasis. While his pieces go on air, they often find a lot of attention online as well. This again shows the power of a digital rhetoric and how it can shape the audiences view of something as grand as an entire city. His pieces are designed to be visually compelling and stay true to the forms of journalism traditionally used so when the audience views his pieces there is definitely an air of authenticity and skillful craft. I think this definitely adds to his credibility and makes for a strong argument about Detroit. While many aggressive approach the problem of Detroit, Atwell’s artful pieces showcase concrete examples that show the positivity in the city.

Struggling in order to write

As I look back at my writings, I realize some of my strongest writing has emerged during hard times. Many of these writings were done in a time of adjustment or change, times where things seemed even a bit out of control. During these tumultuous times, my writing enabled me to regain some control of my situation and begin to understand my surroundings again. This theory about my writing, whether true or not, made me think about what may happen if I reached a comfortable time in my life with no real struggle. Would my writing simply stop? I hope this is not the case but it is certainly an idea that has begun to pervade how I think about my writing.

 

In an age of texting and a loss of real communication among peers, I value the written and spoken word more and more. To think that the lack of strife would be a reason I lose a connection to writing seems ironic. Another way to think about this issue is that all troubles and hardships are relative so it never truly goes away. Whether or not I am comfortable in a situation, I will always find something to write about. Furthermore, I can write when I am happy also. There is a certain strength and ability to hone in being able to write about happy times as well.

Delving into the past to figure out the present

So far it’s been compelling to explore what I’v learned about my culture in the two years since I have written this piece. One of the most relevant experiences I have had recently concerning my heritage is my trip to Trinidad. This was an especially interesting trip because I visited during spring break last year and a good friend of mine from here (U of M) came with me. At first I was admittedly a bit nervous at how she would react and feel around my Trinidadian family as they can be overwhelming, in sheer numbers and in their boisterous, energetic ways of welcoming guests. I had not been to Trinidad since I was very young and many of my memories were distant and foggy of much older relatives and the humid, relaxed environment of the tiny nation. However, the trip turned about to be very successful. It was so much fun and so refreshing to see my relatives again and my friend from here still fondly recalls the memories she made on the trip. We often joke about how she has met more family than my brother has and how keenly she remembers each of the. This trip was certainly an interesting mixing of worlds that may be worth exploring in this repurposed group.

Furthermore, my blog group also suggested I explore my transition from living solely in Westchester, NY to in NYC. Westchester, as a county, and Scarsdale as a town is a very secluded, suburban bubble with many people of the same background. Growing up here was certainly a privilege but sheltered me from much of the diversity of the real world. Now when I visit home, I spend much of my time in NYC because my brother lives in midtown. This is a much more diverse environment that has immersed me in a melting pot of cultures and backgrounds. To explore how this as affected my look on identity and heritage would also be very helpful as well. Especially as I head back to New York this weekend for Fall Break, this will certainly be on my mind.

Lastly, I pose a few questions to my blog group. What do you think is the most useful way to connect these recent experiences into a cohesive piece? Would you be interested in learning about these recent experiences or is this trying to cover too much ground? And do you believe in the exigence of this piece or does is it too individual of an issue? Thanks!